I invited Deb to write for my blog because she is first of all, fabulous. Second, she was the winner of our Fall Giveaway. Third, Deb is passionate about women and God’s word.
Deb Sergeant writes for Singular Perspective — a blog about all things Deb. She is involved in Junior High Ministry, a Teaching and Preaching Apprenticeship at Community Fellowship. Deb also co-leads an awesome small group of women, and works as an administrative assistant at CF.
Read her unique thoughts on shame and leave an encouraging comment below.
Later this week, we’ll begin our series on Mary’s song for Advent.
I like to wear dresses to church. Itâ€™s a habit my parents instilled in me from a young age, and after rebelling for a few years I realized the value of wearing special clothes for church and have worn a dress most Sundays since. Modest dresses are increasingly hard to find. I hunt high and low and do ridiculous things to ensure Iâ€™m well covered, but still cute. Everyone wants to be attractive, right?
Actually, if you attract the wrong kind of attention those warm-fuzzies quickly fade, and the warmer blush of shame ensues. I donâ€™t know if this has happened to you, but I have often attracted significantly older and, typically married, men. One minute I think weâ€™re having a grown up conversation and the next minute I realize theyâ€™re looking me up and down and being overly complimentary while touching my arm or back.
I was visiting a church one Sunday donned in a dress that wasnâ€™t tight, had a high neckline, and landed just slightly above the knee, paired with short black heels. I felt confident that I was fully covered. When I walked up to the doors, two of the three male greeters insisted on giving me a hug. I prefer to just shake their hands. An older married man struck up a friendly conversation (I thought) and proceeded to touch the small of my back twice while trying to force small talk.
What is the result? I feel shame. I feel as though I wore something I shouldnâ€™t or behaved flirtatiouslyâ€¦but I didnâ€™t! I was covered and acting appropriately. This led me to begin thinking about shame. Obviously thereâ€™s the shame that you feel when you do something wrong, but then thereâ€™s the more confusing shame when something wrong is done to you. I donâ€™t think we know how to process this kind of shameâ€¦I know I donâ€™t.
Job took my feelings and stated them perfectly when he said in Job 10:16, â€œIf I am guiltyâ€”woe to me! Even if I am innocent, I cannot lift my head, for I am full of shame and drowned in my affliction.â€
Shame is endured by the guilty and the righteous alike.
How can this be? So often we look to our circumstances to affirm or condemn us, but thatâ€™s not how God works. He doesnâ€™t inflict suffering to correct our behavior. Actually, Matthew 5:45 tells us that God, â€œsends rain on the righteous and the unrighteousâ€ This means he blesses everyone regardless of their actions or relationship to him.
This knowledge that our circumstances are not always our fault should give us freedom from the confusing shame we experience. God didnâ€™t create us to have shame (especially not over other peopleâ€™s actions against us), itâ€™s a result of the sin of mankind. The freedom from Shame that God intended for us is evident when we see that Adam and Eve were, â€œnaked and without shameâ€. Shame entered the world after Adam and Eve sinned, but lest we give up hope, Jesus provided freedom from shame. Romanâ€™s 8:1 says, â€œthere is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesusâ€.
When we take our shame before the throne of God, he looks down on us with love and releases the shackles that bind us. We no longer have to wonder what we did wrong to give us these feelings. We can stand with confidence knowing we are in the presence of a holy God who sees our flaws, but still chooses to pull us in for a genuine fatherly hug. When we rest in His arms, he is able to keep us from stumbling.
God isnâ€™t the giver of shame. Heâ€™s the taker.